Posted by: Robert Eve
Agility, Business Intelligence, Composite Software, Data Federation, Data Virtualization, Market Trends
TDWI does some of the best primary research in the BI and Data Management market. Their Q1 2013 TDWI Best Practices Report, Achieving Greater Agility with Business Intelligence , by David Stodder is one example among many.
Agility Needed, But Not Delivered
This report, drawing from over 400 survey responses across a broad range of Business and IT roles, industries and regions, concludes that “faster decision cycles, competitive pressures to seize fleeting opportunities, and the continuing need to adjust to upheavals in an interconnected global economy are driving demand for business intelligence and analytics that better support business agility.”
Unfortunately, the report also concludes that “the BI systems that deliver vital data and provide the raw materials for analytics are not keeping up.”
Now is the Time to Shift Development and Technology Approaches
There are two ways to improve agility. One is to implement more agile development methods. Another is to move to more agile technology. Data virtualization supports both.
Views vs. the Slow Way
We all know the many steps required to build a schema, map sources to destination, code the ETL scripts, run the scripts to populate the data store and hope that it worked. Agile is not an adjective that comes to mind. Clunky works. Error-prone fits. Frustrating might be how business users describe it. Little wonder that when using this approach, IT requires long, multi-step waterfall development processes in hopes of avoiding mistakes. Long and multi-step are not synonyms for agile.
TDWI understands this challenge. That is why the report states “Data virtualization is giving IT new options for providing faster access,” and recommends, “Evaluate data virtualization technology for increasing speed and diversity of data access.”
Using data virtualization to build views that can be immediately tested on live data, and then quickly adjusted in just a few clicks, is far more agile than traditional data integration. Said another way in the report, “This means users can work iteratively with IT to create comprehensive views of data in place without having to physically extract and move it into an application, data mart or specialized data store.”
Reuse and Decoupling Also Help with Agility
The report makes an interesting point about additional ways data virtualization provides agility. “An added benefit of data federation and virtualization technologies is that they can give organizations a common data access layer; various BI tools can then access data but the users of these tools are insulated from changes to the underlying sources.” In other words, views can be shared across applications. And both applications and sources can evolve flexibly as required.
More from TDWI
If you want to learn more about data virtualization from TDWI, check out TDWI instructor Dave Wells’ video where he describes TDWI’s Data Virtualization class.